Food can take a wine to an extra level. Match the right food with the wine and it will make good wine taste great and a great wine taste orgasmic. I've had several orgasmic wine and food matches over the years - the most memorable the first one, simply because it was the first one, and it was simply as a full-bodied peachy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay with a juicy fresh peach off our very own tree.
Food and wine matching is in vogue and you will find lots of low level suggestions such as wine and cheese, words that comfortably roll off the tongue as a combination. Other no-brainer matches are pinot noir and mushrooms, cabernet merlot and lamb, chardonnay and crayfish and sauvignon blanc and salad. But it's how the wine is made, how the food is cooked, the accompanying sauces, what's in the salad, other stuff on the plate, etc. etc. that can make it or break it. The wrong food could destroy a wine completely. As for the wine and cheese combo, there are as many different cheeses as there are different varieties and styles of wine; some combos work, others (shudder) absolutely don't. Always fun lining up a range of wines and platters full of cheese and finding out, though. A seventies idea for a naughties party.
I've recently come across a range of wines that go the extra mile with the information they put on their back label and included are delicious sounding food matches that make your mouth water.
Like Pinot Gris with pan-seared snapper topped with a smoked salmon mousse, or Nelson scallops with a ginger and lime concaisse on a bed of crispy noodles.
Or Chardonnay with Golden Bay scallops served with a brie and lemon cream sauce or oven-roasted chicken breast stuffed with smoked avocado and pinenuts on a bed of couscous.
Or Sauvignon Blanc with green-lipped mussels topped with fresh basil and tomato salsa - or pan and seared blue cod served with a crisp green salad spritzed with a lemon & lime vinaigrette.
Oh, the food sounds so very tempting.
The wines are from Goldridge Estate and they emulate their parent company, Matakana Estate, with indulgent food match suggestions. I'd love to be at their wine and food matching affairs.
I wasn't quite as creative with my matches but for the three wines I made -
Scallops in a coconut/ginger/kaffir lime/ Asian spice sauce for the Chardonnay.
Pan-fried salmon with a blue cheese for the Pinot Gris
John Dory with basil, balsamic and tomato sauce for the Sauvignon Blanc
The dishes were tapas size and were cooked and served at the same time - mainly so I could relax once the food was on the table.
The big surprise was the scallops - just divine with all three wines - and the dish was so simple to make.
Goldridge Marlbrough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 is this week's Wine of the Week not only because the wine in the bottle is good sound sauvignon blanc, but also because of its versatily with food - that to me was even a surprise. The pan-fried fillet of John Dory with the tomato and basil sauce was gorgeous but the scallop in the Kaffir lime-leaf infused coconut cream reduction took the wine to another level. It bought out the lime character in the wine and the match was simply heaven.
Goldridge Premium Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 is pale in colour with bright fruit aromas of passionfruit and tangy lime with a hint of earthy herbaceousness on the nose. Bright and vivacious to the taste with fresh acidity balancing the concentrated fruitiness, it is full-bodied for the variety with a smooth texture, richness and pungency. Flavours of citrus, tropical fruit and summer herbs linger for ages. Delivers the expectation that the name "Marlborough" conjures up in your mind and if you don't drink it all that night, or even the next, the wine gets more and more concentrated with time in the bottle. It has 12.5% alcohol, a screwcap closure and costs $19-$22 a bottle.
To make the scallop dish - about 100ml of coconut milk (mine came from Thailand in a 165-ml tin) is heated in a small saucepan with a fresh kaffir lime leaf and a sprinkle of ground coriander. Heat without boiling and let the flavours infuse and the liquid reduce.
In a small frying pan heat some butter or neutral oil and add a smidgen of crushed root ginger. Add about 10 scallops for two people, let the scallops sizzle for about a minute each side, then pour in the coconut milk, stir to coat the scallops, and serve. If you like coconut and lime flavours, as I do, you simply love this.
Currently there is no website for Goldridge, but contact details can be found at www.matakanaestate.co.nz. The wines are widely available both in retail and in restaurants - and it seems in many countries around the world.
© Sue Courtney
10 May 2009